Indian farmers to torch laws on bonfires in show of defiance

Farmers protest rattles the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Farmers protest rattles the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi

"Why should they? Farmers are left with no other option than to boycott this committee?"

Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, taking note of the agitating farmers' lukewarm response to the court's suggestion on Monday to set-up a committee to examine the contentious laws, said on Tuesday that they are not forming the committee to "appease" everyone.

Speaking to media after the Supreme Court order, Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said, "Our protest will continue".

While opposition parties like NCP and DMK welcomed the SC order and hoped it will help to resolve the deadlock, Congress leaders expressed apprehension over the members chosen for the committee, saying they are known for their support to the three Acts.

The top court has also issued notice on the Delhi Police's plea seeking to stop the proposed tractor rally by protesting farmers on 26 January.

"Until the Centre accepts all the demands of farmers, our agitation will continue", said Mr Pandher. "We are against the committee on principle".

He has however said that the government should have sought the consultation of the farmers during the law-making.

"The implementation of the three farm laws - Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, and Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act- will stand stayed until further orders", it said.

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The court said that the laws were passed without enough consultation, and that it was disappointed with the way talks were proceeding between representatives of the government and farmer leaders. "This struggle will continue till anti-farmer-worker laws are repealed".

According to the petitioners, the farm laws pertaining to market reforms in agriculture are against constitutional provisions. In a statement issued on December 14, the Agriculture Ministry had said Mann-led AIKCC members submitted a memorandum to it in favour of the farm acts.

Shortly after the apex court pronounced its order, the leaders of the farmer unions addressed a news conference at Singhu border in the national capital.

"Though several rounds of negotiations have taken place between the Government of India and the farmers' bodies, no solution seems to be in sight", it said while referring to the situation on ground.

Government lawyers told the court that the new laws were drafted and implemented based on two decades of studies and disagreed with the farmers' demand for their repeal.

The farmer groups have repeatedly said that they will settle for nothing less than a repeal of the laws, and the government has ruled out any rollback. President Ram Nath Kovind ‪on 27 September‬ gave his nod to the bills amid growing protest by farmer bodies. Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has asked the state Advocate General to examine in detail the Court order and called a meeting of his cabinet to discuss it, the CM's media advisor said.

The top court on Tuesday also agreed to hear the government's petition to stop a rally planned by farmers on January 26, when India celebrates becoming a republic.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Haryana and Punjab, have been protesting at several border points of Delhi since November 28 previous year, demanding a repeal of the three laws and a legal guarantee to the minimum support price (MSP) system for their crops.

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